As nicoleandmaggie sometimes say, this is a deliberately controversial post. The topic comes up because I volunteered to host the next iteration of an online writing group, and I want that group to be helpful for me, as well as for participants.
These online groups are coming up on their second anniversary: we started in May 2011, and continued that fall. I always liked the basic principle of Another Damned Notorious Writing Group: you were committing to completing a single piece of writing in a twelve-week period. Notorious said, “Make it a single project, and make it something you believe you can reasonably complete, given the other demands on your time during the semester.”
Over time, the groups have evolved. A lot of them have expanded to 15 weeks. People have felt more free to comment on each other’s posts, offering advice, congratulations, and commiseration, whereas I think in the early groups, we tended to wait for pats on the head from our fearless leaders. I’m neutral on time periods, and in favor of interaction.
But there are a couple of tendencies I’m not happy with. One is that we’re getting laundry lists of stuff to do from some people, including items related to teaching or taxes. “Overcome By Events” happens. We don’t need all the details. If you need a place to make general lists, then register for an account at the Chron and start posting at Paralysis Analysis.
This listy tendency may have grown from the fact that some of us, including me, have multiple writing projects going on simultaneously, and some of these are large enough to be impossible to complete in 12 or 15 weeks. So I get that. But I’d still like to keep the focus on writing/research. And it would still be good to break down goals to “produce 1000 polished lines of translation” or “one chapter” rather than “keep on with translating” or “write book.”
The other thing making me unhappy is other people’s unhappiness. It seems as if there’s a lot of venting taking place at writing group that might better go on individual blogs. The writing group is supposed to support you in the process of getting work done, not help you understand why work is so hard or analyze the reasons for writing block.
So if you’re happy with things as they are, then maybe there should be multiple groups, with different rules. Maybe I’ll find myself all alone over here. Maybe you’ll all jump on me in the comments. Anyway:
I would like to host a group of committed professional writers—or amateurs serious about their craft—who want to complete a single piece of writing between May and August 2013. The group will provide public accountability and acknowledgement of interim goals met. That’s all.